For Healthy Eyes, Focus on Nutrient-Rich Food



Good overall health includes eating a balanced diet with a variety of nutrient-rich foods and regular exercise.

For athletes, focusing on their nutrition is an essential component of their training regimen. Improving their eyesight by enriching their diet may impact their performance in sports.

New research suggests that athletes who eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables could improve their visual range.

Eat lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich foods.

Studies have shown plant pigments lutein and zeaxanthin, found in many common foods, positively impact eye health and functional vision.

Lutein and zeaxanthin add yellow or orange color to various foods. These foods include cantaloupe, pasta, corn, carrots, orange or yellow peppers, fish, salmon and eggs. Other foods containing these plant pigments are broccoli, peaches, mangoes, berries, spinach and Swiss chard.

Jack Harth, lead author of the study, said this new research discusses the ability of these antioxidants to improve vision in the far distance or how well a person can see a target clearly over distance.

“A lot of the research into macular lutein and zeaxanthin has focused on health benefits, but from a functional perspective, higher concentrations of these plant pigments improve many aspects of visual and cognitive ability,” Harth told Medical Xpress.

Other studies have shown eye health improved by eating foods containing high amounts of these antioxidants. Lutein and zeaxanthin have been linked with reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. They protect the retina from blue light damage by acting like sunglasses for the eye. They also protect the macula in the retina’s center.

“Many athletes already take measures to reduce the impact of blue light through eye black or blue blocker sunglasses, but eating more foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can improve the eye’s natural ability to handle blue light exposure,” Harth said in Medical Xpress.

Harth is a doctoral candidate in University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. The paper was published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews.

Eat healthy, get eye exams

“Good nutrition is essential in keeping current and future generations of Americans healthy across the lifespan,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise incorporating more fruits and vegetables into U.S. residents’ diets as part of healthy dietary patterns. Adults should consume 1.5-2 cup equivalents of fruits and 2-3 cup equivalents of vegetables daily.”

Eating nutritious food may help you live longer. Healthy eating keeps skin, teeth and eyes healthy and lowers risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Eating healthy supports muscles, boosts immunity and strengthens bones. Good nutrition supports healthy pregnancies and breastfeeding, helps the digestive system function and helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

In addition to eating nutrient-rich foods, getting a comprehensive eye exam is also important for your overall health. Many diseases show early signs in the eyes, including cardiovascular health and diabetes.

Eye doctors recommend regular screenings beginning at age 40 or earlier if you have eye disease risk factors, including family history, diabetes and high blood pressure.

It is important to protect your vision and not to delay your eye care. Schedule your exam with one of our eye care professionals.